One of the most common times to engage in partying, drinking, and drug use is during the holidays. In fact, nearly half of all adults in the United States binge drink during New Year’s alone, which can make it difficult to find sober New Year’s Eve ideas.
Substance abuse disorders, addiction, and alcoholism annually impacts nearly 23 million Americans. All substances, including legal ones like alcohol, can lead to physical and psychological dependence. During addiction, your brain’s pleasure and reward center changes. It causes you to crave your substance of choice long after you quit using. Triggers, which can be people, places, or things that remind you of your substance of choice, can create powerful cravings that can drastically intensify during the holidays.
Recovery, Cravings, and Triggers
The stages of addiction can progress rapidly because your brain associates your substance of choice and everything that reminds you of it, with pleasure. Eventually, your body and brain can become completely dependent on your substance of choice in order to release neurotransmitters. The changes to your pleasure and reward center also create a massive neurotransmitter imbalance. Whenever you don’t use your substance of choice during addiction, your brain doesn’t release neurotransmitters, leaving you with a depletion unless you use it again.
During treatment, your brain slowly recovers and re-learns how to release neurotransmitters properly. However, you can still experience cravings whenever you are exposed to triggers. It’s true even if you’ve been clean and sober for an extended period of time. Another thing that makes coping with triggers difficult is negative emotions like depression, stress, and anxiety can serve as triggers. This would make certain times of the year, like holidays, very difficult, especially if you had a difficult or traumatic childhood.
The prevalence of drug and alcohol use during the holiday season means that deciding on sober New Year’s Eve ideas before the holiday is the best way to ensure that you can protect your sobriety.
Sober New Year’s Eve Ideas
Even when you have years of recovery under your belt, holidays can still lead to cravings. Finding sober New Year’s Eve ideas is especially important if you are new to recovery. Since many celebrations involve alcohol, sober New Year’s Eve ideas can include things like:
- Having a sober New Year’s party
- Attending an AA, NA, or SMART Recovery meeting or event
- Spending time with your sponsor or friends in recovery
- Planning a game-night
- Going to a “dry” bar
- Catching up with sober friends and family members
Some of the best sober New Year’s Eve ideas can be difficult if you don’t live near friends or family members, which is why building connections with recovery support groups are important. Groups like NA, AA, and SMART Recovery host sober holiday events, making it easier to support your recovery.
If you have a good relationship with your family, make sure to share your recovery needs with them in advance. Many times, friends and family members can celebrate a sober holiday with you by excluding alcohol from their parties. If you do decide to go out during New Year’s, make sure you have your own transportation. This is just in case alcohol or drugs end up at an event.
Reaching Out for Help Today
When you are planning sober New Year’s Eve ideas, it’s important to remember that cravings are a part of the recovery process. Making sure that you can cope with holiday-related triggers is essential to managing your recovery. A holiday slip-up can lead to a relapse, making sober New Year’s Eve ideas a central part of your lifelong recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with your sobriety, call us today at 855.259.1624 to learn more about our programs and how we can help support your recovery.